Amazon’s new smart shopping cart looks like it has a pair of eyes peering at your groceries

Amazon has announced an updated version of its smart Dash Cart — a shopping cart that lets users scan and pay for their purchases as they shop to avoid waiting in checkout lines.

The original Dash Cart launched in 2020 and Amazon has been slowly rolling them out (ho ho) to its Fresh grocery stores and Whole Foods Market stores. It’s clear they’re still a bit of an experiment, though, and Amazon says the new Dash Cart will only be available at its Westford, Massachusetts Whole Foods store some time “in the coming months,” before slowly heading to other Fresh and Whole Foods locations across the US.

The cart’s main feature is a sensor array in the rim that uses AI-powered cameras and barcode scanners to identify whatever you put in (or take out) and create a live receipt. As you can see in this video from 2020, the system is very quick, and recognizes items pretty much as soon as you place them in the cart without much fuss. A touchscreen lets you check how much you’ve spent and a built-in scale lets you weigh loose items.

The new Dash Cart keeps this same basic functionality with some added upgrades. The carts weigh less but carry more (doubling their capacity from two grocery bags to four) and are now better at locating themselves in stores. This means the touchscreen (which can be used to find goods via a search function) will also display nearby products and deals.

Amazon says it’s also improved the carts’ battery life, which should make them available all day rather than keeping them in their charging stations, and upgraded their durability so they can be taken outside to shoppers’ cars. As per the company press release:

To test durability, we baked the technology in an oven and froze test carts in a giant freezer to ensure they would survive harsh weather conditions. We also dropped heavy weights into test carts’ baskets more than 100,000 times to ensure they would remain usable after impact — needless to say, we feel confident the Dash Cart is durable.

Cool — so you can probably ride this thing down a hill without too much trouble.

The carts do genuinely seem useful, and are part of a trend to remove checkouts from supermarkets and grocery stores in general (which produces payroll savings for companies but can also make life less convenient for shoppers). Amazon, of course, has already been pursuing this transformation through its AI-camera-powered Just Walk Out technology. But presumably, putting this tech in carts, rather than installing it in store rafters, might be easier in some locations.